Do you ever get really comfortable where you are at in life? Or maybe you’re in a little downturn and can’t figure how to turn yourself around in it? I relate life situations often to shoes. I get comfortable in wearing my favorite one or two pairs of shoes. But then I never know when I need others. So I packed numerous pairs of shoes last week to take to Chicago to the Blogher conference. The first day I was there, I watched my friends Aimee and Leah buy new shoes…and work while they did it.
My salesman wasn’t very helpful in finding me size 11 shoes in styles I wanted. I left Nordstrom with no new shoes. But I returned the next day during a break. My feet hurt from walking for hours. This time the man waiting on me flooded me with options. So many options that it was difficult to make a decision.
I hate shopping. I love buying. Making a decision to purchase the shoes was difficult but finally I did and walked stronger, bolder and more confident from simply changing my shoes and wearing a new pair. Oh and I shipped a couple of pairs home too.
Then I went into a dressing room at Nordstrom and tried on new clothes, taking pictures and texting them to my farmer mother aka my personal stylist for her feedback. New clothes. New shoes. That would give me the confidence I needed at Blogher to stand out in a sea of thousands of women with bigger blogs, bigger platforms, bigger issues and certainly from bigger places than me.
But I was wrong. No matter the shoes or clothes you wear the most important first step to standing out, to growing your voice, to changing perspective on an issue you care about, is to first show up to the table.
Show up to the table.
I avoided attending the Blogher conference for years. I read about it online. I read “big” blogs but I wasn’t big enough I thought to attend their “big” conference. I also had an array of excuses that every busy person, and that’s all of us, has. Then two years ago my first-ever blogger turned real life friend The Wife of a Dairyman aka Nancy said I had to attend with her. She went on her own to San Diego in 2011 as I was a working mom sinking in travel and couldn’t figure out how to make it work. I promised in 2012 I would attend in New York City. I showed up in New York City last summer and I was feeling like a fish out of water, even though I had three friends with me I knew.
But as the quote says…
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” -Mary Anne Rademacher
So this year, I didn’t go to Chicago to just show up at the table. That is what I did last year. I showed up and listened last year. It was a first step and certainly a step I didn’t regret.
This year, I showed up to engage in the conversation with courage. I showed up with more ladies I knew but I didn’t just stay in my comfortable circle. I met new bloggers that are now new friends. I took in new sessions that pushed me to think about my blog, what I write, how often I write, what I take pictures of, what topics I speak on, how I utilize tools and who I engage with on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
I have gotten comfortable in my personal usage of social media. I needed new ideas. Like a new pair of shoes makes me feel, Blogher in Chicago gave me confidence this year to be bolder, stronger and use new social media ideas for my passions, for my goals and for good.
And the woman whose blog I have been reading for years, whose cookbooks I have cooked my way through (while gaining 15 lbs. because I love eating while cooking), whose Food Network television show my young daughters watch more often than cartoons, Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, gave me great encouragement at Blogher. She referred to me as an “ag girl” and to all the rural and farm blogger friends I was with as the “ag girls”.
Ag girls have a place at Blogher. I needed the validation as silly as it sounds.
We cheered during Ree’s keynote when she talked about cows. Lisa Stone, CEO of Blogher, said “Oh it’s the Farm Girls! Where are you ladies?”
I was so proud that we, the “ag girls” and “farm girls” were not just at the table, we were engaged at Blogher. We listened. We took in new ideas. We wore new shoes and ventured into new spaces and places. We stood for what we know, for what we believe in and for our passions.
I’m home now where I belong, on the North Dakota prairie. But I have three new pairs of shoes, some new clothes, new ideas, new connections, new friends, renewed passion and a network I can rely on to help push me to do more.
As Brit Morin said during a keynote panel at Blogher, “You are the result of the five people closest to you. Be careful who those five people are.”
I am going to use a small network of bloggers I know and trust to improve what I share and how I share.
I share in social media because I am indeed an “ag girl” who wants more people to know about farm families and agriculture. But I also like sharing about food, my family, life lessons…and shoes. New shoes. So with my new shoes on, I am going to start blogging more often and working to dig myself out of a blogging downturn of the past eighteen months for a new chapter.
All because I showed up at the Blogher table, listened and engaged, I can boldly walk into a new chapter. Thank you for walking with me, no matter what shoes you wear, in this journey.